With spring around the corner, Facebook has come out of the gates with some changes throughout their site. Overall, I feel the changes are a step forward for the world’s most popular social networking site but there are some drawbacks. Here’s a quick snapshot:
Re-Designed Home page
As Rafe Needleman identified in this post about the new home page launch, Facebook definitely caught on to the popularity of the Twitter-esque stream as a way of facilitating contact with all of your friends. Here’s a quick overview from Facebook on the various new features and purpose behind each change.
The group segmenting in the news stream is definitely a nice bonus, especially for those that use the site for both personal and professional purposes. I agree with Rafe that the lack of an auto-refresh in the news stream is a drawback. I’m sure this is no small feat to accomplish with 175 million users, but it would be a nice integration if they really are working to replicate Twitter. In addition, the home page seems to be lacking easy links to pages and causes, which I miss dearly (maybe it’s just me, any insight here would be greatly appreciated! UPDATE: Thanks @kaitlinolson for opening my eyes to the toolbar at the bottom of a user’s profile.)
Re-Designed Pages (Public Profiles)
Lee Aase did a nice overview post on the changes to Facebook pages earlier this month. Most notable is the shift to pages now looking and functioning more like profiles. As Lee notes, the status update addition is a huge step forward as the previous restriction around utilizing “updates” to communicate with fans has been fairly useless since no one ever checks their updates link.
Nick O’Neill posted about Facebook’s removal of their previous restriction on changing group names back in February. Being able to change group names now enables you to ensure you are optimizing the searchability of your group at any moment. I frequently see groups created with obscure titles and administrators scratching their heads when no one joins the groups. Changing group names to incorporate keywords can make a world of difference in helping others find your group. In addition, Neil reports that Facebook has lifted the previous messaging restriction cap of 5,000 members which adds more utility to groups.
Your thoughts on these recent changes? Fan or not a fan?